Teenage volunteer inspired by Sue Ryder hospice care for grandad gives up uni before taking job with charity
When Mitch Staff’s grandfather spent his last days at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in 2010, the care he received made a big impression on his 10-year-old grandson. So much so that four years later, Mitch decided to repay the kindnesses by becoming a volunteer at the hospice.
Now, after four years of dedicated support and having impressed staff so much with his efforts, Mitch has been taken on as a full-time staff member of the fundraising team at the age of 18.
Mitch had originally planned to study law at university, but after only one month realised that uni life was not for him. He returned home and continued his volunteering, soon discovering the job vacancy. “When the job came up it seemed too good to be true and I was really happy when I heard I’d got the job,” he said.
“As I am close to the cause, it’s more than a job. The care my grandad received had a massive impact on my family so it’s giving something back. Sue Ryder has always been a priority in my life; for as long as I can remember it’s always been around. I had never thought about fundraising as a career, but now I’m really enjoying it.”
Mitch remembers enjoying wheeling his grandfather around the hospice gardens. “I didn’t think of Thorpe Hall as a hospital, just somewhere nice to come and visit my grandad who was very happy because he liked the gardens and was allowed to have sips of shandy while he was here.”
Mitch’s volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme started after coming to an open day at Thorpe Hall Hospice and speaking to one of the fundraisers. After finishing his required six months, he decided to carry on working after school and in school holidays doing office work, helping with events and, on a personal level, dyeing his hair bright blue to raise £1,256 from sponsorships.
Mitch was part of the volunteer committee which set up the new Walk to Remember event last year and was part of the organising team again this year. Walk to Remember is a special sponsored walk in Peterborough celebrating the lives of loved ones and raising funds for Thorpe Hall Hospice.
“At 14 it was nice to be part of an office environment and the transition to paid staff has been smooth because I know everybody and where everything is,” he said.
His new job, which he started in February, involves some of the same work but much is quite different. As a community fundraising officer he is already building relationships with supporters on his patch in Werrington, Walton and Gunthorpe in Peterborough, as well as giving support to the rest of the fundraising team.
“I really like meeting people and hearing their different stories and how passionate people are. That really resonates with me.”
Mitch, who will be 19 in June, lives in Crowland and attended Spalding Grammar School. His fundraising efforts earned him a Young Achievers award in his home village two years ago.
Thorpe Hall Hospice’s head of fundraising Donna Young said: “It has been a privilege to see Mitch develop as a volunteer over the last few years and how amazing his commitment has been. It is genuinely exciting to see him choose this as a career.”
Donations to Sue Ryder can be made at https://www.sueryder.org/.